Small Price, Big Flavors: Escaping Kitchen Boredom with Steve Machoquiet and a Garlic and Oil Pasta (with a deconstructed pork, bok choy and ginger ragout)

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You get bored sometimes, even with things you like. Say, with music – that youtube listening list that you’ve heard one time too many, ‘…not today. It doesn’t…flick my bic.’

Or a walk on the same trail ‘…I know, it always changes, different under clouds instead of sun, during different seasons, or a different me. But… man, not again. It doesn’t… fiddle my middle.’

Even books, another fast-written novel, a thriller maybe ‘..sigh. Ok, a rich archeology major, great looking girl, daughter of the famous professor M., chosen for her first dig, meets her liaison, Steven Quietmacho, basically a cross between a young Tom Waits and Fabio, long hair, gruff, on a motorcycle, speaks 15 languages though and cites Keats in whole poems,) in Turkmenistan. Where they speak Turkmen. Which Stevemacho speaks fluently, of course. Someone tries to kill her the second day, Machosteve finds her and they barely escape, helped by Jaren, sister of local mafia boss. Uuuuuuuuugh. Next.’

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…..will our hero Machosteve arrive in time……

And it happens in the kitchen, to. At least to me.

After months of… mostly classic dishes, (pastas and quails and turkey and passatelli and risottos and creams and ossobuco and other things but all done before in more or less the same way, same flavors, same preps, all good, sometimes wow-really good. But…. sort of like cooking with Steve Machoquiet – while listening to that youtube playlist. The one with a Katy Perry song on it. And you wonder why the hell did you put Katy Perry in a music list.) So you say, ‘….screw it,’ and next time you’re at the market grab stuff you’ve either never cooked before or haven’t since. You know, those childlike earlier wonder days in the kitchen when every other dish you made was a first, half of them barely edible, a fourth passable but the remaining fourth… ‘wow. Cool.’  

I did that last week, something most have cooked with before, and all, or nearly, have eaten. Bok Choy.  And after… maybe 2 years, pork spezzatino. The idea was the obvious asiatic-sort of risotto or farrotto.

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Garlic and Oil Pasta (with a deconstructed pork, bok choy and ginger ragout)

…bored flavors? Try this for an inexpensive change
Prep Time 20 mins
Cook Time 15 mins
Course first courses, pasta
Cuisine cheap and delicious, Italian
Servings 2

Equipment

  • a fry pan
  • a big pot for the water
  • a chef knife
  • a grating plane
  • a wooden spoon
  • a wooden fork
  • your nose, hands, skin, ears and eyes or whatever else is available

Ingredients
  

  • about 100 grams pork (loin or shoulder in dice-sized cubes)
  • 1 medium carrot
  • 1 leg celery
  • 1 shallot
  • 200 grams spaghetti or short noodle dry pasta
  • maybe 3 tbsp ev oilve oil
  • 1-2 tbsp freshly grated ginger
  • 2 clementines (untreated peels)
  • 6-8 cherry tomatoes or…
  • 2 bok choy
  • 1/2 clove (medium) garlic minced fresh
  • 3 cloves whole garlic

Instructions
 

  • Boil the bok choy, (in boiling lightly salted water, first 5 minutes only the stems, then another minute or two with the leaves,) then remove and slice into finger-width slivers. Keep and use the flavored salted water to boil the pasta in (adding more salt. Or skip this step and slice 8 cherry tomatoes into eigths or quarters according to taste.
  • Slice the pork pieces into smaller long wedges about the width of pen, and a soffritto of a little carrot, shallot and celery and a bit of minced garlic.
  • Brown the pork, high heat, deglaze with the juice of a couple clemintines or similar, remove.
  • ….then the soffritto and a little grated ginger into the pan, medium-low heat by the way, letting go a few minutes, then lower the heat more and add the garlic.
  • finally the tomato after that, which after a couple  minutes you scrunch with the wooden spoon. If not, the bok choy….
  • Ah, salt and pepper at every step and you could add some hot pepper for punch. Anyway. Re-add the browned pork and toss it all together, basically a deconstructed, fast pig ragout.
  • When the pasta is ready, transfer into the pan and toss well, than add a good twirl of olive oil and maybe some citrus rind and fresh ginger juice over top once plated.
Keyword cheap,, pasta with pork ragout

And the ingredients, as you can see above, were petty much what you’d expect in such a dish. And it probably would have been, except that… she, was peckish early, didn’t feel like a cheese melt (again?) or potato chips (I’d rather listen to Katy Perry,) or anything else rapidly available. So… me-now-steve-macho flew into action to save our damsel in distress. Quietly though. I don’t speak Turkmen. First I sliced some bread to toast, then rub with fresh garlic. Then I sliced down the pork pieces into smaller long wedges about the width of pen, and a soffritto of a little carrot, shallot and celery, a bit of minced garlic, grated some fresh ginger, some sliced cherry tomato, and quick thin chopped some scallion.

First the pork to brown, high heat, deglaze with the juice of a seedless tangerine, remove, then the soffritto and a little ginger into the pan, medium-low heat by the way, letting go a few minutes, then lower the heat more and add the garlic. Finally the tomato after that, which after a couple  minutes you scrunch with the wooden spoon. Ah, salt and pepper at every step, and you could add some hot pepper for punch but my girl doesn’t go much for it. Anyway.

Re-add the browned pork and toss it all together, basically a deconstructed, fast pig ragout. then remove from the pan after a minute or two and reduce it more by fine-chopping the whole. Place it on the toasted garlic bread and squeeze some of the ginger for its juice over top, a dribble of fresh oil and the fine-chopped scallion (raw). She went nuts. (you know how that goes, everyone has their way of expression pleasant culinary surprise. She gets this odd half-relax smile on the edges of her mouth, eyes expand a little and if she’s sitting at a table with her legs free, her left lower one will lightly begin to sway.)

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…that look of approval….

So  much that she asked me to make it again for dinner…. so I did, only adding quick boiled and pre-chopped bok choy instead of tomato, and changing the wheat form, pasta for bread. Simply make a garlic and oil emulsion to toss the pasta in when it’s a couple minutes away from being ready (remove from the pot with salted water, I used the same water for the pasta that I’d boiled the bok choy in, and add to the pan with the garlic emulsion, adding some of the pasta cooking water, and whittle it around and toss well on high heat to get some starchy creaminess. Then add the rest, toss well, and serve.

And you’ll be Steve Machoquiet. But in your living room, not Turkmenistan.  (Though I do wish I still had his long hair. Steve Machoquiets are never bald…) (then again…)

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….maybe I shuold get one of those things and glue it on top….

…for more recipes, on sale at amazon see the shameful self-promotion below…..

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